I know am still in the United States, still in the country that I was born in, but I feel a world apart. During my first hour upon my arrival in El Paso, the warm climate wrapped around me like a welcomed embrace; the introduction to the house where I will be living for the next two months-plus felt like a beautiful day dream, and I found out that I really really suck at Spanish. When I entered Casa Vides, one of the few houses of Annunciation House that I am posted at for my internship, I was welcomed by some of the cutest, sweetest Mexican grandmas that the world could culminate in its imagination. They were greeting me, embracing me, and saying things that I could not make out within my limited range of Spanish skills. Maria, a year-long intern here, showed me around the building, and let me get settled into my new room. The walls are painted white, with the outermost layer cracked and chipped in a way that gives it some nice personality. There are to twin beds, one for me and one for my roommate, Paige, and a window that allows in so much natural sunlight that I might just cry from happiness. (Did I mention that I am on the second floor?) Right outside of the room, there is a nice chill-out area for the interns, with the essential comfy couches that one necessitates for loafing on after a day full of doing work and other various activities, and some books and a tea pot to top it off. Oh, not to mention the door that leads to the little balcony area. (So Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house? I can see Mexico from mine!) Also connected to this little lounge area are the two bedrooms for the two year-long volunteers stationed here.
I feel like I really lucked out here because two of the other summer interns were placed in a floor-level room without the easy access to the things that I just mentioned above. But I didn’t feel bad about that for too long. I took a nap, because a flight that leaves before 6am means one sleep-deprived traveler, and then decided to explore the area a little bit. I left the house and headed southeast, finding a busy part of the city very close by. I hit a street, conveniently named El Paso, that ran perpendicular to what I was on and followed it. There were clothing shops galore, and I couldn’t help but notice that every single word I was hearing around me was in Spanish. I was surrounded by a new language. Cars passing were blasting Latin music; I could hear the street vendors indicating sales (I assume) in a different tongue; and I started to realize, for not the first time in my life, that I was one of the few white people around. (Funny how things come back around.) Upon my stroll down El Paso, I noticed the stores come to an end and a border station not too far ahead of me. Mexico. It was so close I could feel it. Or maybe I felt like I was already there on this street that was flitting with Mexican music and phrases and people.
But I can feel that I wasn’t. One day I’ll venture to the other side of the border crossing, but not today. At the moment, I was really hungry, not having eaten a real meal since dinner the night before (it was lunch time), and spent the rest of my exploration period wandering around for a place that wasn’t Burger King or McDonald’s where I could have decent meal. I finally stumbled upon Martha’s Café, a cute little joint that served mainly Mexican food. (This, delicious-sounding establishment was the perfect venue for my first meal here, though I had to ask the waiter to interpret my meal choice because heck if I know what half the stuff was and I am a vegetarian that doesn’t want to slip up and order a dish with meat in it.) I decided on enchiladas (YUM!), and enjoyed my meal in beautiful solitude, with some occasional glances at BBC World News on my iPhone.
This is where my life has taken me for now, to the edge, or the border if you will, of the world I was born in to. I hope to detail some of my experiences here. I hope those who choose to follow my blog will enjoy some tales and musings that I will be writing about, and will hopefully benefit from them as well.
Until next we meet, I send you all my love,